The first time after independence, India is now ready to witness the run of Cheetahs. 20 of these majestic cats were planned to introduce from Africa in November 2021. But due to the spread of the new covid-19 variant, the project got postponed. Madhya Pradesh, the state of tigers and leopards will soon be called a state of Cheetahs too. Kuno National Park will face a surge in tourists for cheetah safari. Vijay Shah, Forest Minister Madhya Pradesh announced “Ten male and 10 female cheetahs will be flown from South Africa to Gwalior in two phases in November. From there, they will be sent by road to Kuno in Sheopur district (about 150km).” He even released a mascot, Chintu Cheetah to raise awareness on the Kuno National Park Cheetah Restoration Project at a ceremony.
The estimated cost for the maintenance of 20 cheetahs for five years is Rs. 75 crores which have been arranged in association with petroleum companies. India declared Cheetahs an extinct species in 1947 when the last cheetah died in Chhattisgarh. The reintroduction project of Cheetahs is a long-planted dream. It was in 2019 when Supreme Court approved a proposal from National Tiger Conservation Authority to experimentally introduce African Cheetahs in Indian jungles. After months of discussions, the Wildlife Institute of India concluded that with proper investments Kuno National Park is ready for the reintroduction project. Apart from Kuno, Nauradehi sanctuary, Gandhi Sagar sanctuary, and Bhainsrodgarh sanctuary were also taken into consideration for the reintroduction project.
(Thumbnail Image credits: BBC Wildlife Magazine)